Federal prosecutors announced charges Friday against a contractor with the Internal Revenue Service who allegedly stole the tax returns of a high-ranking government official. A source familiar with the matter told CNN that official is former President Donald Trump.
The man, 38-year-old Charles Edward Littlejohn, worked with the IRS from 2018 to 2020, according to court documents. During his contract, Littlejohn allegedly stole “tax returns and return information associated with Public Official A” and disclosed that information to a news organization.
Though the official is not named in court documents, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN the tax returns in question were Trump’s.
In addition to the former president’s tax documents, Littlejohn is also accused of stealing IRS information on “thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, including returns and return information dating back more than 15 years.” Littlejohn then sent that tax information to a second unnamed news organization.
“Both news organizations published numerous articles describing the tax information they obtained from the Defendant,” court documents said.
The New York Times and ProPublica both published articles based on tax records of the former president and other wealthy Americans around the same timeframe – in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Court records do not name the news organizations, which have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Littlejohn is charged with one count of unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
A lawyer for Littlejohn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for ProPublica said in a statement to CNN that “ProPublica doesn’t know the identity of the source who provided this trove of information on the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans.”
CNN has reached out to The New York Times and Trump for comment.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
CNN’s Holmes Lybrand contributed to this report.